Conservation & Environment

Trump Administration Repeals Clean Water Rule, Threatening National Park Waterways and Drinking Water for Communities Across the Country

Posted by on Sep 13, 2019 @ 9:32 am in Conservation | 0 comments

Trump Administration Repeals Clean Water Rule, Threatening National Park Waterways and Drinking Water for Communities Across the Country

The Trump administration announced its final repeal of the 2015 Waters of the United States (WOTUS) rule, also known as the Clean Water Rule, threatening drinking water for communities and national park waterways across the country. The administration’s dismantling of the Clean Water Rule, combined with its proposed rewrite, eliminates protections for our nation’s rivers, lakes and streams, and paves the way for more pollution from mining, manufacturing and large farms to flow into waterways, which will ultimately impact water that we all depend on for drinking, fishing, swimming and other recreation.

The original WOTUS rule, also known as the Clean Water Rule, was developed over a multi-year process that included bipartisan support. The goal was to end confusion about which of our nation’s streams, wetlands, lakes and rivers — the source of drinking water for 117 million Americans — are protected under the Clean Water Act. Almost immediately after taking office, President Trump issued an executive order instructing the Environmental Protection Agency and Army Corps of Engineers to revisit the Clean Water Rule.

The National Park Service oversees thousands of miles of waterways and coasts throughout the country – from trout streams in Yellowstone to wetlands in the Everglades. For more than 20 years, national park visitors have consistently ranked water quality or water access as a top-five most valued attribute when visiting national parks. The Outdoor Industry Association found that consumers spend $887 billion annually on outdoor recreation, with nearly $140 billion on kayaking, rafting, canoeing, scuba diving and other water and recreation activities, all of which takes place in our parks.

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Sacred Native American Sites Are Not Your Playgrounds

Posted by on Sep 10, 2019 @ 6:53 am in Conservation | 0 comments

Sacred Native American Sites Are Not Your Playgrounds

Some of the places most sought after by recreationists are also culturally, spiritually, and/or economically vital to Native American tribes. As more people take to these lands to hike, bike, climb, ski, paddle, or camp, respect for indigenous values sometimes fades.

In Wyoming’s Devils Tower National Monument, for instance, an increasing number of climbers are choosing to ignore a voluntary June climbing ban that’s been in place for more than 20 years to allow local tribes to hold ceremonies at the site. Roughly 373 climbers scaled Devils Tower in June 2017, compared to 167 in 1995.

Some sacred places are strictly off-limits to non-indigenous folks. But more often, Native Americans are happy to share their traditional homelands if recreationists respect the cultural heritage of the places we want to play.

The Oglala Lakota were granted Devils Tower through an 1851 treaty, and the U.S. later violated that treaty, forcing the tribe onto a reservation. Honoring the June ban and other tribal requests is a small way to acknowledge Native people’s past, and honor their modern rights.

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Smokies Park reaches biodiversity milestone at 20,000 species

Posted by on Sep 7, 2019 @ 7:01 am in Conservation | 0 comments

Smokies Park reaches biodiversity milestone at 20,000 species

Great Smoky Mountains National Park has reached a biodiversity milestone with the discovery and documentation of 20,000 species of plants, animals, and other organisms. Scientists from across the world have assisted the park in a concerted effort to catalog all life in the park through an All Taxa Biodiversity Inventory (ATBI).

“Reaching this milestone is a testament to the curiosity, tenacity, and dedication of the biological community,” said Superintendent Cassius Cash. “Each year, we have scientists who share their time and expertise to help us better describe, understand, and protect the wonders of the Smokies.”

The ATBI is an ongoing project to study the diversity of life in the Smokies including where the species can be found, how abundant they are, and how they interact with one another. The project is managed by Discover Life in America (DLiA), a non-profit partner of the park, in cooperation with park staff.

In the 21 years of its existence, the ATBI has documented over 9,500 new species records for the park and an additional 1,006 species that are completely new to science. Among the newest species records in the park are the giant bark aphid (Longistigma caryae), which is the largest aphid in the US; the Blue Ridge three-lobed coneflower (Rudbeckia triloba var. rupestris), a handsome wildflower native to Kentucky, Tennessee, and North Carolina; the frosted elfin butterfly (Callophrys irus), a rare butterfly whose caterpillars feed on lupine and indigo; and the yellow passion flower bee (Anthemurgus passiflorae), which exclusively pollinates the small flowers of the yellow passion flower. In addition, the nine-banded armadillo (Dasypus novemcinctus) was recently documented in the park for the first time.

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How can I teach my students about climate change?

Posted by on Sep 6, 2019 @ 6:44 am in Conservation | 0 comments

How can I teach my students about climate change?

The good news about young brains — as anyone who’s been even passively absorbing climate news over the past year probably knows — is that the Teens Are Pretty On It. Seattle-based climate activist Jamie Margolin launched the nonprofit Zero Hour when she was yet to hit voting age.

The International Youth Climate Strike, which took place in over 130 countries this past March, was organized by a group of middle and high school students, some of whom were as young as 13. And Swedish activist Greta Thunberg, who’s become something of a patron saint of the climate movement, just sailed across the whole-ass Atlantic Ocean on a zero-carbon yacht to school the United Nations on climate action at the tender age of 16.

It’s easy to read that as a teacher and think, “I’m good here! The next crop of kids is already all over the climate thing.” Kids today may be “digital natives” who get the latest TikTok update downloaded directly to their brains, but they’ve also had to grow up wading through the rising cesspool that is online misinformation.

When you add into the mix that many media outlets continue to prominently feature climate deniers (despite the vast majority of scientists affirming that human-caused climate change is real), and the fact we’re talking about complicated science stuff and existential threats to human life on Earth, you have a recipe for utter bafflement.

So what should you do?

 

19-Mile Rail Trail Could Link Hendersonville and Brevard

Posted by on Aug 31, 2019 @ 6:35 am in Conservation, Hiking News | 0 comments

19-Mile Rail Trail Could Link Hendersonville and Brevard

North Carolina House Rep. Chuck McGrady, Conserving Carolina, and Friends of the Ecusta Trail are pleased to announce that Conserving Carolina was awarded a $6.4 million purchase grant for the rail corridor known as the TR Line or Proposed Ecusta Trail. “This is a very big next step for the Ecusta Trail”, said McGrady. “There is still a lot of work to be done and a lot of processes to work through that will take time, but this is a large step forward.”

The proposed greenway will run from Kanuga Road in Hendersonville to the old Ecusta Plant property in Brevard, between Ecusta Road and Old Hendersonville Highway. This rail line has been inactive since the Ecusta cigarette paper plant closed its doors in 2002.

Friends of The Ecusta Trail was founded in 2009 as a volunteer organization to study, educate and advocate for the acquisition and development of the proposed Ecusta Trail. Their efforts over the years have included garnering endorsements for the trail by the Cities of Brevard and Hendersonville, the Town of Laurel Park and the Henderson County Commissioners in addition to nearly 50 other non-profits and organizations throughout western North Carolina.

Representatives of Friends of the Ecusta Trail asked Conserving Carolina to take the lead in grant application process. Conserving Carolina submitted the grant application to NCDOT in July, 2019. The grant was approved this month.

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Yes, the Amazon wildfires are bad, but how bad?

Posted by on Aug 26, 2019 @ 7:19 am in Conservation | 0 comments

Yes, the Amazon wildfires are bad, but how bad?

Brazil has recorded over 75,000 individual forest fires in 2019 so far, showing an 85 per cent increase when compared to the first eight months of 2018. The impact on the Amazon has been catastrophic. In July, an area the size of Manhattan was obliterated every single day. And this destruction will undoubtedly have grave consequences for the entire planet.

The Amazon basin is center-stage in the debate over the causes and solutions to global warming. Spanning over seven million square kilometers, it accounts for over 40 percent of the world´s entire stock of tropical forests, 20 per cent of the global fresh water supply and recycles roughly 20 percent of the air we breathe.

As media headlines around the world are showing, these forests are under threat due to fires, relentless deforestation and degradation. Much of this is caused by cattle rearing, soy production, mining and selective logging.

Scientists are concerned that the Amazon is perilously close to a tipping-point creating conditions so hot and dry that local species could not regenerate. If 20-25 percent of the tree cover is deforested, the basin’s capacity to absorb carbon dioxide would collapse.

If this happens, the world´s largest tropical forest will become its biggest patch of scrubland. This would not only lead to rapid deterioration of biodiversity, it would profoundly upset the process of evapotranspiration which influences cloud cover and the circulation of ocean currents.

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Park Webcams Provide Smokies Views and Weather

Posted by on Aug 22, 2019 @ 6:40 am in Conservation | 0 comments

Park Webcams Provide Smokies Views and Weather

Great Smoky Mountains National Park recently installed webcams at Newfound Gap and Clingmans Dome, providing visitors with near real-time access to weather conditions and views from the highest elevations in the park. The public can access images taken every 15 minutes, along with hourly information on temperature, humidity, wind speeds, precipitation, and air quality.

The new webcams at Clingmans Dome and Newfound Gap were installed last year and staff have been testing the reliability and accessibility over the last several months. The data is easily available online, providing visitors an opportunity to better prepare themselves for a park visit at high elevations where temperatures can be 10 to 20 degrees cooler than experienced at low elevations. Visitors can also check visibility and precipitation conditions to better determine viewing and traveling conditions. In addition, the park has webcams at Look Rock, Purchase Knob, and Twin Creeks.

“We’re excited to have this opportunity to collect and share timely weather and air quality conditions with park visitors, as well as those who simply want to experience Smokies views from wherever they are in the country,” said Air Quality Specialist Jim Renfro. “We’re hearing from many people that these views and weather conditions help them feel connected to the park even if they are very far away or have never had a chance to visit in person.”

Digital images, weather, and air quality information from monitoring locations in the park are part of the National Park Service air quality web camera network, the National Ecological Observatory Network (NEON), and the PhenoCam Network providing us valuable long-term monitoring data. The Clingmans Dome webcam is operated seasonally from late March through early December, weather depending, while the other cameras are operated throughout the year.

Funds to support the installation and annual operations for the webcams at Clingmans Dome and Newfound Gap is provided by Friends of the Smokies, the National Park Service Air Resources Division. Other park partners helping to provide weather data and communication are Great Smoky Mountains Association, Tennessee Valley Authority, National Weather Service, North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality, Environmental Protection Agency, and Air Resource Specialists, Inc.

To access webcam information, please visit the park’s website at www.nps.gov/grsm/learn/photosmultimedia/webcams.htm.

 

It’s raining plastic: microscopic fibers are falling from the sky

Posted by on Aug 15, 2019 @ 7:14 am in Conservation | 0 comments

It’s raining plastic: microscopic fibers are falling from the sky

Plastic was the furthest thing from Gregory Weatherbee’s mind when he began analyzing rainwater samples collected from the Rocky Mountains.“I guess I expected to see mostly soil and mineral particles,” said the US Geological Survey researcher. Instead, he found multicolored microscopic plastic fibers.

The discovery, published in a recent study titled “It is raining plastic”, raises new questions about the amount of plastic waste permeating the air, water, and soil virtually everywhere on Earth.

“I think the most important result that we can share with the American public is that there’s more plastic out there than meets the eye,” said Weatherbee. “It’s in the rain, it’s in the snow. It’s a part of our environment now.”

Rainwater samples collected across Colorado and analyzed under a microscope contained a rainbow of plastic fibers, as well as beads and shards. The findings shocked Weatherbee, who had been collecting the samples in order to study nitrogen pollution.

The results are consistent with another recent study that found microplastics in the Pyrenees, suggesting plastic particles could travel with the wind for hundreds, if not thousands, of kilometers. Other studies have turned up microplastics in the deepest reaches of the ocean, in UK lakes and rivers and in US groundwater.

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How Jocassee Gorges Was Saved

Posted by on Aug 13, 2019 @ 6:54 am in Conservation, Hiking News | 0 comments

How Jocassee Gorges Was Saved

To appreciate what Bill Thomas did for Gorges State Park, think of it not as a stand-alone property but as part of the larger Lake Jocassee watershed. Also known as Jocassee Gorges, it is a freak of climatological and geologic nature that extends across the North Carolina-South Carolina line southwest of Asheville and has been named by National Geographic as one of fifty “World’s Last Great Places.”

The ancient crash of tectonic plates that created the Appalachian Mountains pushed up the Blue Wall on the southeast edge of the mountains and formed the bones of the lake’s basin and the maze of gorges above it. The 2,000-foot wall catches moisture from clouds drifting up from the Gulf of Mexico, creating an annual average of 91 inches of rain (and a whopping 136 inches in 2018) that feeds four landmark rivers, the Thompson, Toxaway, Horsepasture and Whitewater. Their destination-worthy cascades include Whitewater, Rainbow, Turtleback and Windy falls.

Thomas, taking in the views at Gorges State Park, thought about what this land could have been— a vast zone of hydroelectric projects, its famous waterfalls funneled through pipes, its wild rivers cooped up in basins designed to flush like toilets to produce surges of power.

He thought about what it has been instead for the past 20 years—a safely preserved wonderland of deep ravines, plunging rivers and rare plants.

Thomas, 91, a retired chemical engineer, made an unpaid, late-life career of doing good things for the environment, applying his passion for the outdoors and brilliant, Princeton-trained intellect to a series of causes, including the blocking of a luxury subdivision planned for the heart of DuPont State Recreational Forest.

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Indians Plant 220 Million Trees In A Single Day

Posted by on Aug 12, 2019 @ 7:21 am in Conservation | 0 comments

Indians Plant 220 Million Trees In A Single Day

More than a million Indians planted 220 million trees on August 9, 2019 in a government campaign to tackle climate change and improve the environment in the country’s most populous state.

Forest official Bivhas Ranjan said students, lawmakers, officials and others planted dozens of species of saplings along roads, rail tracks and in forest lands in northern Uttar Pradesh state. The target of 220 million saplings was achieved. Ranjan said the trees, including 16 fruit species, will increase forest cover in the state.

India has pledged to keep one-third of its land area under tree cover, but its 1.3 billion people and rapid industrialization are hampering its efforts.

“We set the target of 220 million because Uttar Pradesh is home to 220 million people,” said state Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath.

Planting was carried out in 1,430,381 places, including 60,000 villages and 83,000 sites in forest ranges. It was the second huge tree planting campaign in Uttar Pradesh. In July 2016, 50 million saplings were planted in a day.

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The Controversial Plan to Protect America’s Trails

Posted by on Aug 11, 2019 @ 6:49 am in Conservation, Hiking News | 0 comments

The Controversial Plan to Protect America’s Trails

There are 11 designated national scenic trails stretching across nearly 18,000 miles in the U.S. But there are more than 4,000 miles of privately owned “gaps” in the system that leave routes vulnerable to a change in ownership or a landowner’s whims.

Typically, the government or nonprofit trail associations work to fill such gaps by purchasing land from willing sellers. But Jim Kern, founder of a new advocacy group called Hiking Trails for America, says the only way to protect every mile of those trails forever is through the use of eminent domain.

A power granted by the Fifth Amendment of the Constitution, eminent domain allows federal, state, and local governments to acquire private land for public use in exchange for “just compensation.”

The Appalachian Trail is the only national scenic trail owned entirely by the public and the only one for which the U.S. government has invoked eminent domain. The National Park Service says it acquired 15,266 acres along the trail via compulsory purchase, mostly between 1986 and 1997, out of nearly 150,000 total acres acquired to complete federal ownership of the land.

The other ten trails, like the Pacific Crest Trail, rely partly on agreements with private landowners, which guarantee rights of passage for hikers. But if lands are sold, or if an owner decides against allowing hikers on their property, it could force a trail to reroute or run alongside developed land instead of the wilderness. “It leaves a lot of uncertainty as to what might happen.”

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Southern Appalachians Highlands Conservancy Protects 187 Acres at Wilkins Creek

Posted by on Aug 8, 2019 @ 7:25 am in Conservation | 0 comments

Southern Appalachians Highlands Conservancy Protects 187 Acres at Wilkins Creek

Just beyond the rush of traffic on Interstate 40 near the Tennessee-North Carolina line, steep hillsides and forested knolls shelter a vibrant community of wildlife.

Southern Appalachians Highlands Conservancy recently purchased 187 acres in this part of Haywood County near the Pigeon River to protect a corridor for wildlife grazing and movement.

Encircled by the Pisgah National Forest and adjoining the NC Welcome Center on I-40, the Wilkins Creek property is very near a large box culvert under the Interstate, which provides a way for wildlife to travel safely from one side of the interstate to the other. The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, NC Wildlife Resources Commission, and other partners identified this property in the Pigeon River Gorge as a conservation priority because it provides a key corridor for elk and other animals to move in the landscape.

“Protecting the Wilkins Creek tract represents a long-term, important investment in the well-being of wildlife throughout the Southern Appalachians,” says Jeff Hunter, Senior Program Manager with National Parks Conservation Association. “Ongoing wildlife monitoring by National Parks Conservation Association and Wildlands Network indicate that black bear, bobcat, white-tailed deer, and migrating bird species including a variety of wood warblers frequently use this property. Protecting the land also advances wildlife connectivity efforts throughout the Pigeon River Gorge, between Pisgah National Forest and Great Smoky Mountains National Park. We will continue to support progress in restoring landscape connectivity and reducing wildlife-vehicle conflicts by working in partnership with groups like SAHC.”

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Mountain goat relocation is a high-flying balancing act in Olympic National Park

Posted by on Aug 4, 2019 @ 6:55 am in Conservation | 0 comments

Mountain goat relocation is a high-flying balancing act in Olympic National Park

In early July, the loud whirring of a helicopter punctured the quiet of Washington’s Olympic National Park as wildlife specialists scoured meadows, forests, ridgelines and mountaintops for flashes of white fuzz: mountain goats. The cherry-red aircraft kicked up dirt and debris as it lowered two goats, dangling in slings, toward a waiting truck, their feet bound and their vision obscured by blue blindfolds. During a brief landing, one of the specialists — commonly known as “muggers” — stepped out, with a kid no more than 6 weeks old calmly cradled in his arms.

It sounds like a dramatic scene from a wilderness reality show, but it’s not: It was just another day in an extensive effort to eliminate mountain goats from the Olympics — where they are not native, damage endemic plants and even killed a person — and hand some over to Washington state to boost populations in the North Cascades Range, where mountain goats have declined after decades of overhunting. The project illustrates the lengths to which national and state agencies are willing to go to restore a single strand in the complex web of these human-altered ecosystems.

Mountain goats are not native to Olympic National Park: Hunters from Alaska introduced about a dozen of them in the 1920s. At one point, the population ballooned to over 1,000, causing “ecological mayhem,” as they grazed on rare alpine plants and eroded the landscape, said Patti Happe, the wildlife branch chief for the park. Before the translocations began, there were about 725 goats still on the Olympic Peninsula.

To keep humans safe and restore balance in mountain goat populations, wildlife biologists decided to physically relocate the Olympic Peninsula goats, starting with 115 translocations last year. The animals were all radio-collared and ear-tagged so they can be identified and tracked in their new environs. Approximately 70% of adults and half the children survived the first year — which is within the natural range of survival.

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The Greenland ice sheet is in the throes of one of its greatest melting events ever recorded

Posted by on Aug 3, 2019 @ 6:54 am in Conservation | 0 comments

The Greenland ice sheet is in the throes of one of its greatest melting events ever recorded

The same heat dome that roasted Europe and broke national temperature records in five countries last week has shifted to Greenland, where it is causing one of the biggest melt events ever observed on the fragile ice sheet.

By some measures, the ice melt is more extreme than during a benchmark record event in July 2012, according to scientists analyzing the latest data. During that event, about 98 percent of the ice sheet experienced some surface melting, speeding up the process of shedding ice into the ocean.

The fate of Greenland’s ice sheet is of critical importance to every coastal resident in the world, since Greenland is already the biggest contributor to modern-day sea level rise. The pace and extent of Greenland ice melt will help determine how high sea levels climb and how quickly.

To illustrate the magnitude of ice contained in Greenland, consider that if the entire ice sheet were to melt, it would raise sea levels by 23 feet. Scientists are using aircraft, field research, satellites and other tools to improve their understanding of how quickly ice is being lost.

At one location, 75 miles east of Nuuk, Greenland’s capital, the equivalent of 8.33 feet of water (2.54 meters) had melted as of July 31, slightly exceeding the value of 8.27 feet (2.52 meters) from 2012. At another location 497 miles to the north, the equivalent of 7.38 feet (2.25 meters) of water had melted, topping the record of 6.30 feet (1.92 meters) in 2012.

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Science at Sugarlands: Mysterious grassy balds

Posted by on Aug 2, 2019 @ 6:59 am in Conservation | 0 comments

Science at Sugarlands: Mysterious grassy balds

Mysterious and haunting, Southern Appalachian grassy balds have long fascinated scientists and hikers alike. How many balds are there in the Smokies? How did they evolve? How do they support rare plants? Can balds be found in other parts of the world?

These and many other questions will be answered—or at least discussed—on Friday, August 16, 2019 when NPS forester Jesse Webster presents a Science at Sugarlands program on the grassy balds of the Great Smoky Mountains entitled “Balds: Ecological Enigma and Conservation Dilemma.” The event begins at 1 p.m. at Sugarlands Visitor Center, is free and is sponsored by Discover Life in America.

Remnants of the last ice age more than 10,000 years ago, balds are mountain summits that offered many benefits for both humans and animals. Research suggests they were once kept clear of vegetation by megafauna—grazing by early big animals like mastodons or wooly mammoth, and later bison, elk and deer.

“Native Americans most likely played an active part in maintaining the open, meadow-like character of the balds with fire,” Jesse says. “Later, early European settlers brought their cattle and sheep to the balds for choice grazing in summer, and literally carried the torch by continuing to use fire to keep the balds from turning back into forests.”

Today, people come to the Smokies from all over the world to see some of the rare plant species that still exist on the balds, such as dwarf willow and various types of goldenrod and azalea. The same unique assemblage of plant species can be found at both Andrews and Gregory balds, the two that are actively managed by GSMNP. Andrews covers two acres and visitors can access it via a fairly easy one-mile ascent; Gregory encompasses 14 acres and it takes a five-mile up-hill hike to get there.

Learn more here…

 

The Nature Conservancy Preserves Nearly 400 Square Miles of Appalachian Forest

Posted by on Aug 1, 2019 @ 6:36 am in Conservation | 0 comments

The Nature Conservancy Preserves Nearly 400 Square Miles of Appalachian Forest

  A 253,000-acre swath in the Central Appalachian Mountains will be protected, thanks to a land acquisition by The Nature Conservancy (TNC) announced earlier this month. Two parcels, one along the Kentucky-Tennessee state line, and the other in Southwest Virginia, will fill in large gaps between existing public lands and provide a wilderness corridor for animals seeking refuge from climate change, experts say.

The acquisition, known as the Cumberland Forest Project and announced July 22, 2019, is among the largest land purchases TNC has made in the Eastern United States. The organization is celebrating the deal for the way it will connect wild lands along the Appalachian Mountains.

“You see a lot of green spaces on the map when you look at the Appalachians,” says Brad Kreps, director of TNC’s Clinch Valley Program. “But there are a lot of gaps within that conserved network, and those are the places we need to work to serve the entire Appalachian corridor. The Cumberland Forest Project is a strategic acquisition that helps stitch together other protected lands and helps us maintain connected wildlife habitat.”

The first of the two parcels, the Ataya property, is a 100,000-acre tract running along the Kentucky and Tennessee border near Cumberland Gap National Historical Park. The Highlands property, the second of the two plots, consists of 153,000 acres of forest in Southwest Virginia, sandwiched between Jefferson National Forest and Breaks Interstate Park. Both parcels were previously owned by timber companies and managed primarily for resource extraction, from logging to coal mining.

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How Science Got Trampled in the Rush to Drill in the Arctic

Posted by on Jul 27, 2019 @ 7:03 am in Conservation | 0 comments

How Science Got Trampled in the Rush to Drill in the Arctic

Tucked into the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, a bill signed by President Donald Trump, was a brief two-page section that had little to do with tax reform. Drafted by Alaska Senator Lisa Murkowski, the provision opened up approximately 1.6 million acres of the vast Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil and gas leasing, a reversal of the federal policy that has long protected one of the most ecologically important landscapes in the Arctic.

The only thing standing in the way of establishing an oil and gas leasing program for ANWR is the environmental review process, which includes an assessment of the proposed seismic surveys and an evaluation of the impacts of leasing and future development on the refuge. Environmental reviews are a standard part of oil and gas drilling elsewhere in Alaska, and normally, such impact statements for ecologically sensitive and undeveloped land would take at least two to three years—or even longer, according to three former DOI officials interviewed for this article. Instead, the administration is compressing it into just over one year.

According to interviews with more than a dozen current and former employees at the Fish and Wildlife Service and the Bureau of Land Management in Alaska, that speed has come at a significant cost to the reliability and comprehensiveness of the overall environmental review.

BLM employees, according to the documents, have submitted strongly worded complaints as part of the administrative record alleging that key findings in their work on the environmental assessment for seismic surveys were altered or omitted. In one case, according to the leaked documents, a biologist’s conclusion was reversed from saying the impacts of seismic surveys on polar bears were uncertain or potentially harmful to a finding that the impact would be “less than significant”—an important distinction in environmental law.

In another complaint, a BLM anthropologist was surprised to find that large portions of her analysis of potential impacts on native communities had been removed. A third BLM scientist, who studies fish and water resources, noted that “fundamental inaccuracies” had been introduced into his section without his knowledge. Moreover, these same scientists received an email from the district office instructing them not to modify or correct the changes, which were “based on solicitor and State Office review.”

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Smokey Bear’s 75th Birthday Party at Cradle of Forestry

Posted by on Jul 25, 2019 @ 7:33 am in Conservation | 0 comments

Smokey Bear’s 75th Birthday Party at Cradle of Forestry

Come and join Smokey and all his friends at The Cradle of Forestry for his 75th birthday. This year’s red carpet event is the hottest ticket in Pisgah National Forest, with all new games and events, it’s fun for the whole family.

Party Schedule:

11:00 am to 1:00 pm: Smokey’s Birthday Party. Enjoy games, prizes, live children’s music, and birthday cake.
11:30 am: Smokey Arrives! Meet Smokey bear. Make him a birthday card and take a photo together.
12:00 pm: Story Time. Hear the true story of Smokey Bear & Sing the Smokey Bear song.
12:30 pm: Kids Parade. Join the Rosman High School Marching Band in a birthday parade.
1:30 pm to 2:30 pm: Live Animal Presentation by Naturalist Carlton Burke and his animal friends.

Party Details:

This event costs $6 for regular admission and $3 for youth ages 4 to 12, along with federal pass holders including America the Beautiful and Golden Age. Children under 4 for free.

Admission to the birthday party is included in the admission fee along with access to 15 hands-on exhibits in the Forest Discovery Center, including the firefighting helicopter simulator and the scavenger hunt.

The Cafe at the Cradle will be open for lunch from 11am to 3pm, but families are also invited to pack their own picnic.

All activities during Smokey Bear’s Birthday Party (11am to 1pm) will be held in front of the Forest Discovery Center. The Live Animal Presentation at 1:30 pm will take place at our outdoor amphitheater.

The Cradle of Forestry in America Heritage Site is located near Brevard, NC and Asheville, NC within Pisgah National Forest on Hwy. 276 North, 4 Miles from the Blue Ridge Parkway at Mile Marker 412, and 3.5 miles from Sliding Rock.

 

7 Ways Hemp Plastic Could Change the World

Posted by on Jul 23, 2019 @ 6:48 am in Conservation | 0 comments

7 Ways Hemp Plastic Could Change the World

Did you know that it takes between 500-1,000 years for plastic to degrade?

Plastic pollution is destroying our planet by the minute. In fact, so much plastic is thrown away each year it could circle the earth four times. And these numbers are on the rise.

In the United States alone, Americans throw away 35 billion plastic water bottles every year. This plastic ends up in the land and the sea, devastating natural ecosystems. Worse yet, this same plastic pollution ends up in our bodies.

It’s estimated that 93 percent of Americans over the age of six test positive for BPA, a chemical in plastic linked to cancer, diabetes, impaired immunity, and much more.

Clearly, plastic pollution is an environmental and health hazard. But what if hemp could help?

Hemp happens to be an excellent source of cellulose and is sustainable.

Here are 7 ways how hemp plastic could change our planet…

 

For 35 years, a team of scientists have studied the decline of glaciers. What does their loss mean?

Posted by on Jul 20, 2019 @ 7:27 am in Conservation | 0 comments

For 35 years, a team of scientists have studied the decline of glaciers. What does their loss mean?

Walking the icy flanks of Mount Baker—an active volcano in Washington State and one of the highest peaks in the Cascade Range—is probably one of the most untainted wilderness experiences.

A high mountain glacier, in its frigid, deadly enormity, doesn’t feel much like a landscape meant for humans. In the European Alps, medieval myths held that glaciers carried curses and incarcerated the frozen souls of the damned. And yet, on a grand scale, where glaciers and humans coexist, our lives are entwined in ways we rarely realize.

During the last ice age, the glaciers of Alaska locked up so much water that the seas lowered enough to create a land bridge to Siberia and perhaps allowed the earliest passage of humans into North America.

Glaciers have carved out many of our mountain ranges, scoured out plains and prairies, and birthed rivers and lakes. Today, in many parts of the world, mountain glaciers preside over vast empires of fresh water that reach from the highest peaks to the coast: they dictate the flow of water downslope and influence the seasonal pulse of rivers and fish and the temperature and chemistry of streams and estuaries.

They supply water for drinking, irrigation, and hydropower dams. But as the world gets warmer, glaciers’ influence in many regions is waning.

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